Collective Strength in Collective Voices: Courage in Time of Crisis

In light of the tragedy unfolding in India, one that is disproportionately and catastrophically affecting Dalit and Bahujan communities, and in keeping with Ambedkarite shairi’s rebellious and hopeful cultural musical tradition, we will hold this event as a space to draw on the strength, healing, love, and collective care we need to sustain through this devastating crisis.

Navayan Mahajalsa, an Ambedkarite cultural shahiri group that aims to spread anti-caste and pro-democracy movement messages. The event will feature songs/ballads by two members of the collective—Sachin Mali and Shital Sathe and a conversation with the duo facilitated by ICWI’s Prachi Patankar.
We will also be joined by filmmaker Somnath Waghmare who is working on an Ambedkarite Songs Documentation project to document and archive Ambedkarite Song and tradition in rural areas across Maharashtra.

You can see Navayan’s work at and

Navayan Mahajalsa is a shahiri troupe that carries forward the rebellious cultural tradition in Maharashtra. After being successful as Shahirs* for 15 years, Sheetal Sathe and Sachin Mali established this troupe in 2017. The troupe has been conducting “Shahiri Jalsa” events not only in Maharashtra, but all over India, with a mission of annihilation of caste, class, and patriarchal oppression.

Navayan Mahajalsa is their official YouTube channel and they regularly publish their new creations on this channel. In addition to being an audience, Sathe and Mali appeal to the public to actively support Navayan Mahajalsa in building a cultural movement for fighting inequity.
* Composer/singers of powadas are known as Shahirs. Powada is a genre of Marathi poetry, a kind of ballad that narrates historical events in an inspiring way.

Jailed to die? India’s incarcerated human rights defenders and the Covid emergency

USA: 9:30am EDT / 8:30am CDT / 6:30am PDT
UK: 2:30pm BST / Europe: 3:30pm CEST / India: 7pm IST

India accounts for almost a third of deaths from Covid-19 worldwide. The spread of the pandemic in India’s prisons remains a cause for grave concern, with the incarcerated becoming particularly exposed to infection, and developing other serious health issues owing to prison over-crowding, absence of appropriate medical care, and deplorable hygiene conditions.

The temporary administrative order to release prisoners due to the pandemic or place them under house arrest is shockingly not applicable to political prisoners in India. By turning a blind eye to the compounded risks the pandemic adds to an already cruel prison system, the government is in violation of its constitutional duty to safeguard the life of these citizens.

This event brings together testimonies from family members of the BK-16 and human rights and legal experts to raise international public awareness on how the courts and prisons have become complicit in denying not only those in prison but also their family members their basic rights protected by India’s constitution. This is a concerted public appeal for the appropriate implementation of the temporary administrative order. When the prison is unable to provide for the health and safety of the prisoners, the family has a right to offer such care as they deem necessary. The prisoners have a constitutional right to live and die in dignity.

Aakar Patel, Director, Amnesty International India and columnist
Shahrukh Alam, Lawyer, Supreme Court of India
Koel Sen, Filmmaker and artist, daughter of Shoma Sen
Jenny Rowena, Lecturer, Delhi University, wife of Hany Babu
Prachi Teltumbde, Daughter of Anand Teltumbde
Father Joseph Xavier, Associate of Stan Swamy, Bangalore




Recording Duration                                                             Webinar Start Time
Apr 18, 2021 11:07 AM
01:51 :00

Dr. Ruth Manorama,recipient of The Right Livelihood Award, will discuss her political representation as a Dalit Feminist Activist, Specifically in the context of the Modi government. Beena Pullical and Abirami Jotheeswaran from All india Dalit Mahila Adhikar Manch (National Campaign for Dalit Womens’ Human Rights) will provide an update on the Hathras situation.